By Patrick Avenell

The countdown is now on to the gambling event of the year, the 2011 Melbourne Cup. While the world’s best stayers are descending on Flemington to race for glory, millions of dollars will be punted with offshore bookmakers, presenting a risk of fraud and theft, according to AVG.

In line with the international flavour of this year’s running, best highlighted by a short-priced favourite and defending champ from France with an America(i)n name, the Melbourne Cup is a magnet for identity theft, scams and spam, according to Michael McKinnon.

Replacing the charismatic, Mad Eye Moody-esque Lloyd Borret as AVG’s security spokesperson (although Borrett was officially an ‘evangelist’), McKinnon is the former CTO of AVG who now works as an advisor to the retail internet security company. In this regard, he most resembles Sirius Black.

AVG quotes a Global Betting and Gaming Consultants’ estimate that Australians will flutter $611 million in online wagering in 2011. Furthermore, there are over 2,400 online gambling sites, of which 92 per cent are available to Australians, according to a submission to a Government gambling reform committee. This magnitude of options can create confusion amongst punters, especially with the Melbourne Cup’s reputation for attractive casual and once-a-year betting.

Click here to sign up for our FREE daily newsletter
Follow on Twitter

First thing people should be aware of is to avoid Sports Arbitrage sites the same way one should avoid all the other races on Cup Day. Sports arbitrage is almost always a scam, with no software ever able to correctly generate winning advice.

AVG has other handy tips for punters (one of which, of course, is to invest in AVG mobile and internet security products). First up is to only bet with established, Australian-based bookmakers, and to avoid any sites that promise tax-free winnings or sign-up incentives.

A good practical tip is to open a credit or debit card specifically for online purposes, which will make detection of suspicious activity more efficient.

Always look for secure website notifiers, such as the prefix ‘https’ in the address (URL) bar, and the padlock symbol in some browsers. AVG further recommends strong passwords and secure Wi-Fi browsing when accessing the sites. will provide our annual Melbourne Cup feature next Monday (31 October 2011). Last year, we correctly predicting three of the top four places (including first and second), while in 2009, we correctly predicted first and fourth.